For children, speech therapy plays a crucial role in building the foundational skills needed for effective communication. These skills encompass articulation, language comprehension, and social communication—cornerstones that shape a child’s ability to express themselves and connect with the world. Early intervention is key, as addressing speech and language difficulties during formative years can significantly impact a child’s overall development, setting the stage for a lifetime of success.
When a child faces speech challenges, seeking early intervention through speech therapy is paramount. Delays in accessing support can result in far-reaching consequences, from educational and academic challenges to impacts on emotional, social, and cognitive development, as well as behavioural issues. Illustrating these consequences with specific case studies can underscore the urgency of timely intervention.
In some cases, speech therapy may be offered, but progress might be slow initially. This can be attributed to the complexity of the speech challenge, external life challenges, or missed developmental windows of opportunity. It’s crucial to highlight that progress often requires patience, persistence, and a collaborative effort between parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.
Ongoing progress may also mean providing wrap-around services that address all areas of a young person’s life.
For one young person with a known speech delay, who recently became known to KICS kinship and foster care was struggling to make progress with speech therapy. With commitment from the KICS Support Workers, parents and Kinship Carer the young person began a positive journey to improved speech development. This meant fortnightly visits to the speech therapist and open communication between KICS, the speech therapist, the parents, the kinship carers and other stakeholders including the Department of Child Safety, Childcare and Educational services.
The commitment from all parties was unwavering, ensuring consistency and diligence to follow up and complete activities recommended by the speech therapist from the Kinship Carers. The KICS Support Worker was able to help with tips and strategies to balancing everyday challenges in order for continued progress. The Kinship Carers were also very supportive in communicating to mum and dad the child’s progress and how they could continue to support the young person with that progress.
Additional services, in the form of occupation therapy was added, once it was identified that other challenges in social skills were evident. Occupational therapy sessions, also held once every fortnight, became a new addition to their schedule. With the same dedication and love that marked their approach to speech therapy, the kinship carers were there to support, learn, and encourage the young person every step of the way and was able to communicate with the parents what was needed to continue this support when the child was in their care.
Over time the child has grown confidence and not only improved communication skills but also gained a sense of empowerment. The ability for the child to express themselves clearly fostered a greater self-esteem and opened doors to social and educational success. This has meant that all concerns about the young person’s readiness for prep next year have been dispelled. Instead of repeating another year of kindergarten, the young person will confidently attend prep school in 2024.
Amid the challenges and triumphs, the parents, KICS Support Workers and other stakeholders involved have shown unwavering support. During home visits, the KICS Support Workers was able to provide valuable tips and strategies to further enhance the young person’s progress.